oversight

Mass Transit: FTA Needs to Provide Clear Information and Additional Guidance on the New Starts Ratings Process

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-06-23.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Committees




June 2003
             MASS TRANSIT
             FTA Needs to Provide
             Clear Information and
             Additional Guidance
             on the New Starts
             Ratings Process




GAO-03-701
             a
                                                June 2003


                                                MASS TRANSIT

                                                FTA Needs to Provide Clear Information
Highlights of GAO-03-701, a report to the       and Additional Guidance on the New
Committee on Banking, Housing, and
Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, and the             Starts Ratings Process
Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure, House of Representatives




Under the Transportation Equity                 FTA made two changes to the New Starts evaluation and ratings process for
Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21),              the fiscal year 2004 cycle. First, in response to language contained in a
Congress authorized federal                     conference report prepared by the House Appropriations Committee, FTA
funding for New Starts fixed                    adopted a 60 percent preference policy, which in effect, generally reduced
guideway transit projects—                      the level of New Starts federal funding share for projects from 80 percent to
including rail and bus rapid transit
projects that met certain criteria. In
                                                60 percent. Because FTA has not revised its program regulations to reflect
response to an annual mandate                   this change, transit agencies, project sponsors, and the public did not have
under TEA-21, GAO assessed the                  an opportunity to formally comment on the change. Explicitly stating its
New Starts evaluation and ratings               criteria and procedures in regulation would allow those involved in
process for the fiscal year 2004                considering potential projects to make their investment decisions on the
cycle, including (1) changes to the             basis of a transparent process. Second, FTA revised some of the criteria
process and any related issues and              used in the ratings process to include a new Transportation System User
(2) any challenges related to New               Benefits measure. Project sponsors GAO interviewed said that the measure
Starts initiatives contained in the             was an improvement over the previous benefits measure because it
administration’s fiscal year 2004               considers benefits to both new and existing transit system riders. However,
budget proposal.                                many project sponsors experienced difficulties in generating a value for the
                                                measure for a number of reasons, such as problems with their local
                                                forecasting models. FTA officials are working closely with project sponsors
To ensure that transit agencies have            to correct these problems, but more guidance may be necessary to avert
clear information on the New Starts             similar difficulties in the future.
program, Federal Transit
Administration (FTA) should                     The administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposal requests that
(1) amend its regulations governing             $1.5 billion be made available for New Starts for that year, a 25 percent
the level of federal funding share              increase over fiscal year 2003. The budget proposal contains three
for projects to reflect its current             initiatives—reducing the federal share to 50 percent, allowing certain
policy and (2) issue additional                 nonfixed guideway projects to be funded through New Starts, and
guidance to transit agencies on the             establishing a streamlined ratings process for projects requesting less than
use of local travel forecasting                 $75 million in New Starts funding. These initiatives may allow FTA to fund
models in calculating the                       more projects and give local communities flexibility in choosing among
Transportation System User                      transit modes. However, they may also create challenges for some future
Benefits measure.                               transit projects, such as difficulties in generating an increased local funding
                                                share or a reduction in the number of smaller communities that will
Department of Transportation                    participate in New Starts.
officials generally agreed with the
information provided in this report.
                                                Light Rail Transit System in Portland, Oregon
They concurred with the
recommendation about providing
guidance on the user benefits
measure and they will consider the
recommendation about amending
the regulations related to federal
funding share.
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-701.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Rita Grieco at
(202) 512-9047 or griecor@gao.gov
Contents



Letter                                                                                                  1
                             Results in Brief                                                           2
                             Background                                                                 5
                             Changes to the New Starts Process for Fiscal Year 2004 Have Caused
                               Difficulties for Some Project Sponsors                                   8
                             FTA Evaluated 52 Projects for the Fiscal Year 2004 Cycle, Rated 32,
                               and Proposed 4 for New Grant Agreements                                 14
                             Proposed Initiatives in FTA’s Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Proposal Have
                               Some Advantages, but May Create Challenges for Future New
                               Starts Projects                                                         17
                             Conclusions                                                               21
                             Recommendations for Executive Action                                      22
                             Agency Comments                                                           22
                             Scope and Methodology                                                     22


Appendixes
              Appendix I:    Additional Information on Four Projects Proposed for New
                             Full Funding Grant Agreements in Fiscal Year 2004                         25
             Appendix II:    Transit Sponsors and Metropolitan Planning Organizations
                             Contacted by GAO                                                          27
             Appendix III:   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                     28
                             GAO Contact                                                               28
                             Acknowledgments                                                           28


Figures                      Figure 1: New Starts Planning and Project Development Process              6
                             Figure 2: Changes to the New Starts Evaluation and Ratings
                                       Process for Fiscal Year 2004                                     9
                             Figure 3: Distribution of New Starts Project Ratings for Fiscal
                                       Years 2003 and 2004                                             15
                             Figure 4: Ratings of Projects Proposed for New Starts Funding in
                                       Fiscal Year 2004                                                16
                             Figure 5: New Starts Funding Proposals for Fiscal Year 2004               18
                             Figure 6: Advantages and Disadvantages of Proposed New Starts
                                       Initiatives                                                     21




                             Page i                                                GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Contents




Abbreviations

BRT          Bus Rapid Transit
CTA          Chicago Transit Authority
DOT          Department of Transportation
FFGA         Full Funding Grant Agreement
FTA          Federal Transit Administration
FY           fiscal year
LIRR         Long Island Rail Road
LPA          Locally Preferred Alternative
MPO          Metropolitan Planning Organization
MTA          Metropolitan Transit Authority
NEPA         National Environmental Policy Act
PE           Preliminary Engineering
RTC          Regional Transportation Commission
TEA-21       Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
TSUB         Transportation System User Benefits

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Page ii                                                          GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    June 23, 2003                                                                                  Lert




                                    The Honorable Richard C. Shelby
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
                                    United States Senate

                                    The Honorable Don Young
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable James L. Oberstar
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
                                    House of Representatives

                                    Since the early 1970s, the federal government has provided a large share of
                                    the nation’s capital investment in mass transportation. Much of this
                                    investment has come through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA)
                                    New Starts program, which awards full funding grant agreements for fixed
                                    guideway1 rail, bus rapid transit, trolley, and ferry projects. A full funding
                                    grant agreement establishes the terms and conditions for federal
                                    participation in a project.2 By statute, the federal funding share of a New
                                    Starts project cannot exceed 80 percent of its net cost. To obtain a grant
                                    agreement, a project must progress through a regional review of
                                    alternatives and meet a number of federal requirements, including
                                    providing data for the New Starts evaluation and ratings process. Ongoing
                                    and proposed New Starts projects are located in cities in every area of the
                                    country, and collectively will transport an estimated 190 million riders
                                    annually when completed, according to FTA. Because the demand for New
                                    Starts funding is high, FTA was directed to prioritize projects for funding on
                                    the basis of specific financial and project justification criteria. FTA




                                    1
                                     Fixed guideway systems use and occupy a separate right-of-way for the exclusive use of
                                    public transportation services. They include fixed rail, exclusive lanes for buses and other
                                    high-occupancy vehicles, and other systems.
                                    2
                                     According to FTA, the term “full funding grant agreement” refers to a multiyear contractual
                                    agreement between FTA and project sponsors for a specified amount of funding. The full
                                    amount of funding is committed to the projects over a set period.




                                    Page 1                                                              GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                   evaluates and rates projects on multiple criteria and determines an overall
                   rating for each project.3

                   Under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)4 and
                   subsequent amendments, Congress authorized approximately $10 billion
                   for New Starts projects from fiscal years 1998 through 2003. Because TEA-
                   21 expires at the end of fiscal year 2003, Congress is currently considering
                   reauthorization legislation that will determine the amount of future funding
                   for the New Starts program and any changes to the program’s structure.
                   TEA-21 requires GAO to report each year on FTA’s processes and
                   procedures for evaluating, rating, and recommending New Starts projects
                   for federal funding.5 This report discusses (1) changes made to the New
                   Starts evaluation and ratings process for fiscal year 2004 and issues related
                   to these changes, (2) the number of New Starts projects that were
                   evaluated and rated and which projects FTA proposed for new grant
                   agreements in fiscal year 2004, and (3) the proposed funding commitments
                   and initiatives related to New Starts in the administration’s fiscal year 2004
                   budget proposal and any challenges they might present for future projects.



Results in Brief   FTA made two changes to the New Starts evaluation and ratings process for
                   the fiscal year 2004 cycle. First, in response to language contained in a
                   conference report prepared by the House Appropriations Committee,6 FTA
                   instituted a preference policy in its ratings process favoring projects that
                   seek no more than 60 percent of total New Starts funding from the federal
                   government, which, in effect, generally reduced the level of New Starts




                   3
                    The exception to the ratings process are projects that are statutorily “exempt” because they
                   request less than $25 million in New Starts funding.
                   4
                   Pub. L. 105-178 (1998).
                   5
                    See U.S. General Accounting Office, Mass Transit: FTA’s New Starts Commitments for
                   Fiscal Year 2003, GAO-02-603 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 30, 2002), Mass Transit: FTA Could
                   Relieve New Starts Program Funding Constraints, GAO-01-987 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 15,
                   2001), Mass Transit: Implementation of FTA’s New Starts Evaluation Process and FY 2001
                   Funding Proposals, GAO/RCED-00-149 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 28, 2000), and Mass Transit:
                   FTA’s Progress in Developing and Implementing a New Starts Evaluation Process,
                   GAO/RCED-99-113 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 26, 1999).
                   6
                   H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 107-308, p. 114 (Nov. 30, 2001).




                   Page 2                                                             GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
federal funding share for projects from 80 percent to 60 percent.7 Although
FTA has discretion in deciding how the local share of funding contributions
should be considered in selecting New Starts projects for funding, the
agency is required to issue regulations defining the criteria for evaluating
and rating projects, including the degree of local financial commitment.
However, FTA’s 60 percent preference policy for the amount of federal
funding share for New Starts projects is not reflected in its current
regulations. By not amending its regulations to reflect this change, FTA has
not provided an opportunity for public comment on this new policy.
Furthermore, explicitly stating all of FTA’s criteria and procedures in
regulations would allow project sponsors, Metropolitan Planning
Organizations, and others involved in considering potential New Starts
projects to make their investment decisions on the basis of a transparent
evaluation and ratings process.

A second change to the evaluation and ratings process involved FTA
revising its cost-effectiveness and mobility improvements evaluation
criteria for rating proposed New Starts projects to include a new measure
for Transportation System User Benefits that gives equal weight to benefits
for both new and existing transit system riders. Project sponsors we
interviewed generally endorsed the new benefits measure, but
implementing it has been difficult for both FTA and the project sponsors
because of the variety of local travel forecasting models that exist and
problems with the models. For example, FTA officials told us that some of
the local models had errors in their underlying assumptions or in the data
used to generate the measure. In addition, project sponsors reported that
FTA did not provide adequate documentation on the computer software
used to calculate the measure or how FTA used the measure in determining
project ratings. As a result of these difficulties, 11 project sponsors were
unable to generate accurate data needed to calculate a value for the new
benefits measure. FTA officials have taken some steps to provide technical
assistance, training, and guidance about the measure to project sponsors,
but they also acknowledged the need to more systematically address the
underlying problems related to the local models.

For the fiscal year 2004 cycle, FTA evaluated 52 projects, rated 32 projects,
and proposed 4 projects for new full funding grant agreements as a result of


7
 While FTA’s preference policy reduced the level of New Starts funding a project is likely to
receive, the administration has proposed in its reauthorization legislation that project
sponsors may seek additional federal funding from other sources.




Page 3                                                              GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
its revised evaluation and ratings process. Twenty of the evaluated projects
were statutorily exempt from the ratings process because they requested
less than $25 million in New Starts funding.8 In comparing fiscal year 2004
overall project ratings with fiscal year 2003, we found that a similar number
of projects were evaluated, but significantly more projects were “not
recommended” or “not rated” due to problems with complying with the
reduced federal share, calculating the new user benefits measure, or
resolving other data problems. From fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2004, the
number of projects that received an overall rating of “not recommended”
increased from 4 to 11 and the number that were “not rated” due to lack of
data or other reasons increased from 2 to 7.

The administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposal requests that
$1.5 billion be made available for New Starts for that year. The budget
proposal contains three initiatives—reducing the maximum federal
statutory share to 50 percent, allowing nonfixed guideway projects to be
funded through New Starts, and replacing the “exempt” classification with
a streamlined ratings process for projects requesting less than $75 million
in New Starts funding. These proposed initiatives have advantages and
disadvantages. For example, they may allow FTA to fund more projects and
give local communities more flexibility in choosing between transit modes.
However, they may also create challenges for future transit projects. For
example, proposed transit projects may have difficulties generating an
increased local funding share. The initiatives may also change the original
fixed guideway emphasis of New Starts by allowing nonfixed guideway
projects to be funded through New Starts, which some project sponsors
believe may disadvantage traditional New Starts projects. Additionally,
replacing the “exempt” classification may reduce the number of smaller
communities that will participate in New Starts.

This report makes recommendations to ensure that FTA’s New Starts
regulations reflect its current 60 percent preference policy on the federal
share for projects and to address problems found in the implementation of
the new user benefits measure by issuing additional guidance to transit
agencies. Department of Transportation officials agreed with the information
provided in this report and they concurred with the recommendation about


8
 According to FTA, statutorily exempt projects must meet all planning, environmental,
project management, and other requirements that demonstrate their readiness to advance
into preliminary engineering and final design. Statutorily exempt projects do not sign full
funding grant agreements, rather they are funded annually through scheduled grants or
congressional designation.




Page 4                                                             GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
             providing guidance on the user benefits measure. They also said that they will
             consider the recommendation about amending the regulations related to the
             federal funding share.



Background   TEA-21 authorized a total of $36 billion in “guaranteed” funding through
             fiscal year 2003 for a variety of transit programs, including financial
             assistance to states and localities to develop, operate, and maintain transit
             systems.9 Under one of these programs, the New Starts program, FTA
             identifies and funds worthy fixed guideway transit projects, including
             heavy, light, and commuter rail, ferry, and certain bus projects (such as bus
             rapid transit). FTA funds New Starts projects through full funding grant
             agreements (FFGA), which establish the terms and conditions for federal
             participation in a project. By statute, the federal funding share of a New
             Starts project cannot exceed 80 percent of its net cost. To obtain a FFGA, a
             project must progress through a regional review of alternatives and meet a
             number of federal requirements, including providing data for the New
             Starts evaluation and ratings process.10

             Projects presented to FTA for evaluation go through a lengthy process from
             planning to preliminary engineering and final design,11 which may
             culminate in a FFGA and the actual construction phase. FTA conducts
             management oversight of projects from the preliminary engineering stage
             through construction. All projects that do not have an existing or pending
             FFGA and are in preliminary engineering or final design are considered to
             be in the New Starts pipeline. There are currently 52 projects in the
             pipeline. Figure 1 illustrates the overall planning and project development
             process for New Starts projects.



             9
              “Guaranteed” funds are subject to a procedural mechanism designed to ensure that a
             minimum amount of funding is authorized each year.
             10
              The alternatives analysis stage provides information on the benefits, costs, and impacts of
             alternative strategies leading to the selection of a locally preferred solution to the
             community’s mobility needs.
             11
              During the preliminary engineering phase, project sponsors refine the design of the
             proposal, taking into consideration all reasonable design alternatives, which results in
             estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts (e.g., environmental or financial). Final design is
             the last phase of project development before construction and may include right-of-way
             acquisition, utility relocation, and the preparation of final construction plans and cost
             estimates.




             Page 5                                                               GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Figure 1: New Starts Planning and Project Development Process




                                        To determine whether a project should receive federal funds, FTA’s New
                                        Starts evaluation process assigns ratings based on a variety of financial and
                                        project justification criteria and then assigns an overall rating. These
                                        criteria are identified in TEA-21 and reflect a broad range of benefits and
                                        effects of the proposed projects, such as capital and operating finance




                                        Page 6                                                  GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
plans, mobility improvements, and cost-effectiveness.12 FTA assigns
proposed projects a rating of high, medium-high, medium, low-medium,
or low for each criterion. The individual criterion ratings are combined into
the summary financial and project justification ratings. On the basis of
these two summary ratings, FTA develops the overall project rating using
the following decision rules:

• Highly Recommended requires at least a medium-high for both the
  financial and project justification summary ratings.

• Recommended requires at least a medium for both the financial and
  project justification summary ratings.

• Not Recommended is assigned to projects not rated at least medium
  for both the financial and project justification summary ratings.

• Not Rated indicates that FTA has serious concerns about the
  information submitted for the mobility improvements and cost-
  effectiveness criteria because the underlying assumptions used by the
  project sponsor may have inaccurately represented the benefits of the
  project.

• Not Available is the rating given to projects that did not submit
  complete data to FTA for evaluation for the fiscal year 2004 cycle.

Although many projects receive an overall rating of “recommended” or
“highly recommended,” only a few are proposed for FFGAs in a given fiscal
year. FTA proposes “recommended” or “highly recommended” projects for
FFGAs when it believes that the projects will be able to meet certain
conditions during the fiscal year that the proposals are made. These
conditions include the following:

• The local contribution to funding for the project must be made available
  for distribution.




12
 The exceptions to this process are statutorily “exempt” projects, which are those that
request less than $25 million in New Starts funding. These projects are not required to
submit project justification information and do not receive ratings from FTA.




Page 7                                                            GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                             • The project must be in the final design phase and have progressed to the
                               point where uncertainties about costs, benefits, and impacts (e.g.,
                               environmental or financial) are minimized.

                             • The project must meet FTA’s tests for readiness and technical capacity.
                               These tests confirm that there are no cost, project scope, or local
                               financial commitment issues remaining.



Changes to the New           FTA implemented two changes to the New Starts process for fiscal year
                             2004. First, in response to language contained in a conference report
Starts Process for           prepared by the House Appropriations Committee, FTA instituted a
Fiscal Year 2004 Have        preference policy in its ratings process favoring current and future projects
                             that do not request more than a 60 percent federal share. Second, FTA
Caused Difficulties for      revised its cost-effectiveness and mobility improvements criteria by
Some Project Sponsors        adopting a Transportation System User Benefits (TSUB) measure that gives
                             equal weight to benefits for both new and existing transit system riders.
                             Project sponsors we interviewed endorsed the TSUB measure, but
                             implementing it has been difficult for both FTA and the project sponsors
                             because of the variety of local travel forecasting models that exist and
                             problems with those models.13 These difficulties resulted in some projects
                             not being rated for the fiscal year 2004 cycle.



FTA Made Two Changes to      The New Starts evaluation and ratings process for fiscal year 2004 was
the New Starts Process for   generally similar to that of fiscal year 2003, but FTA implemented two
                             changes that are described in its Annual Report on New Starts for Fiscal
Fiscal Year 2004             Year 2004.14 First, in response to language contained in a conference report
                             prepared by the House Appropriations Committee, FTA instituted a
                             preference policy in its ratings process favoring current and future projects
                             that do not request more than a 60 percent federal share. To achieve this,
                             FTA changed its criterion related to capital finance plans to give projects
                             seeking a federal share greater than 60 percent a “low” financial rating. A


                             13
                              We interviewed 11 sponsors of ongoing New Starts projects who were chosen to include a
                             cross-section of projects based on geographic distribution, project size, and a range of cost-
                             effectiveness and financial ratings. For a more detailed description of interviewees, see the
                             Scope and Methodology section and app. II.
                             14
                              See Federal Transit Administration, Annual Report on New Starts: Proposed Allocations
                             of Funds for Fiscal Year 2004 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 3, 2003).




                             Page 8                                                              GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                                          “low” financial rating is likely to result in a “not recommended” overall
                                          rating. Second, FTA changed the calculation of the cost-effectiveness and
                                          mobility improvements criteria by adopting the TSUB measure. The TSUB
                                          measure replaced the “cost per new rider” measure that had been used in
                                          past ratings cycles. According to FTA, the new TSUB measure reflects an
                                          important goal of any major transportation investment—reducing the
                                          amount of travel time and out-of-pocket costs that people incur for taking a
                                          trip (i.e., the cost of mobility). In contrast to the previous “cost per new
                                          rider” measure, the TSUB measure gives equal weight to both new and
                                          existing transit system riders by measuring not only the benefits to people
                                          who change transportation modes (e.g., highways to transit) but also
                                          benefits to existing transit riders and highway users.

                                          Figure 2 illustrates the New Starts evaluation and ratings process, including
                                          the changes made to the process for fiscal year 2004.



Figure 2: Changes to the New Starts Evaluation and Ratings Process for Fiscal Year 2004




                                          Note: The shaded boxes indicate areas where changes were made to the process for fiscal year 2004.
                                          a
                                           According to FTA, this optional criterion of “other factors” gives grantees the opportunity to provide
                                          additional information about a project’s likelihood for overall success.




                                          Page 9                                                                       GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
FTA Regulations Do Not       The TEA-21 legislation that authorizes the New Starts program states that
Reflect Its Current          federal grants are to be made “for 80 percent of the net project cost, unless
                             the grant recipient requests a lower grant percentage.”15 The legislation
Preference Policy Favoring   further provides that, in evaluating grant applications, FTA shall consider
Projects with a Federal      the degree of local financial commitment and the extent to which the local
Funding Share That Does      commitment exceeds the minimum nonfederal share of 20 percent. For the
Not Exceed 60 Percent of     fiscal year 2004 cycle, FTA instituted a 60 percent preference policy that
Total Project Funding        ultimately is likely to result in an overall rating of “not recommended” for
                             projects that seek more than a 60 percent federal share.

                             Although TEA-21 authorized FTA to consider local financial commitments
                             that increase the local share of net project cost, and it vested FTA with
                             discretion as to how to achieve this, the Secretary of Transportation is
                             required by law to issue regulations defining the manner in which projects
                             will be evaluated and rated.16 In December 2000, FTA finalized a regulation
                             that stated that the evaluation and ratings process would consider, among
                             other things, the extent to which projects have a local financial
                             commitment that exceeds the 20 percent minimum. Essentially, this
                             regulation merely restated the TEA-21 statutory criteria. Also, when FTA
                             implemented its 60 percent preference policy, it did not amend its
                             regulations to support the change in policy or its current procedures. By
                             not amending its regulations, which have the full force and effect of law, to
                             reflect this change, FTA has not provided an opportunity for public
                             comment on its new policy. Furthermore, explicitly stating all of FTA’s
                             criteria and procedures in regulations would help to ensure that project
                             sponsors, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and others involved in
                             considering potential New Starts projects were fully aware of FTA’s
                             preference policy and could make their investment decisions on the basis
                             of a transparent evaluation and ratings process.

                             FTA has stated that in instituting the 60 percent preference policy, it was
                             following congressional direction as expressed in a conference report
                             prepared by the House Appropriations Committee.17 That report states “the
                             conferees direct FTA not to sign any new full funding grant agreements
                             after September 30, 2002, that have a maximum federal share of higher than


                             15
                                  49 U.S.C. § 5309.
                             16
                                  49 U.S.C. § 5309(e)(5).
                             17
                                  H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 107-308, p. 114 (Nov. 30, 2001).




                             Page 10                                                     GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                             60 percent.”18 As stated previously, TEA-21 provides FTA with discretion to
                             give priority to projects that have a federal share lower than 80 percent.
                             FTA officials told us that favoring projects with a federal share that does
                             not exceed 60 percent would allow more projects to receive New Starts
                             funding and would help ensure that local governments play a major role in
                             funding such projects.



Reduction in Federal Share   Of the 32 projects that were rated for the fiscal year 2004 cycle, 4 received a
Affected Some Ongoing        “low” financial rating and a “not recommended” overall rating because,
                             among other reasons, they proposed a federal share above 60 percent.19
New Starts Projects and
                             According to FTA, since the release of FTA’s Annual Report in February
May Adversely Affect         2003, one of these projects—the San Juan Tren Urbano Minillas Extension
Future Projects              project—was withdrawn and the three remaining projects are continuing to
                             address their financial issues. FTA officials expressed the view that
                             reducing the level of federal share to 60 percent has a minimal impact
                             because, over the last 10 years, the federal share for New Starts projects’
                             grant agreements has averaged around 50 percent and has been trending
                             lower. However, many of the project sponsors we interviewed (7 of the 11)
                             noted that the reduced federal share did, in fact, have an impact on their
                             projects’ schedule and financing, which had to be revised prior to or during
                             the ratings process.

                             FTA’s decision to institute its preference policy for projects that seek no
                             more than a 60 percent federal share may also adversely affect future
                             projects, according to project sponsors that we interviewed, as the
                             following examples illustrate.

                             • Six of the 11 project sponsors said that continuing a 60 percent
                               preference policy for the amount of the federal share for projects might
                               reduce the number of future projects because of difficulties faced by
                               local and state governments in providing an increased local share.
                               Transit industry officials we interviewed agreed with this statement.


                             18
                              We note that statements in a committee or conference report do not have the force or
                             effect of law and cannot supercede or repeal statutory requirements. See U.S. General
                             Accounting Office, Welfare Reform: Competitive Grant Selection Requirement for DOT’s
                             Job Access Program Was Not Followed, GAO-02-213 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 7, 2001), 11.
                             19
                              The four projects proposing a federal share greater than 60 percent were San Juan Tren
                             Urbano Minillas Extension, Ft. Collins Mason Street Transportation Corridor, Philadelphia
                             Schuylkill Valley Metrorail, and San Francisco New Central Subway.




                             Page 11                                                          GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                              • Nine of the 11 project sponsors said that the unequal federal share for
                                highway and transit projects could bias the local decision-making
                                process in favor of highway projects. Highway projects generally receive
                                a federal share of 80 percent or more, in contrast to the current
                                preference policy of a 60 percent federal share for New Starts transit
                                projects.



FTA’s New Cost-               The nine project sponsors we interviewed who were affected by the TSUB
effectiveness Criterion Was   measure believed it was an improvement over the previous “cost per new
                              rider” measure because the TSUB measure takes into account a broader set
Endorsed by Project
                              of costs and benefits to the overall transit system.20 For example, the
Sponsors but Resulted in      measure considers mobility benefits related to improved travel time for all
Some Implementation           users of a transportation corridor, rather than benefits accruing from only
Difficulties                  new riders. However, many project sponsors encountered difficulties in
                              providing accurate data needed to calculate the new TSUB measure.

                              To implement the TSUB measure, FTA developed a software package,
                              called Summit, to extract certain data from local travel forecasting models
                              that are used in planning transit projects. FTA hired contractors to assist
                              project sponsors in using the Summit software to calculate the TSUB value.
                              During the implementation process, FTA discovered that many of the local
                              travel forecasting models had underlying errors. Some of these errors were
                              significant due to faulty design and assumptions made in some of the local
                              travel forecasting models; others were simple coding errors in the models.
                              As a result, many projects experienced difficulties that prevented them
                              from calculating an acceptable value for the TSUB measure.

                              According to FTA’s Annual Report, 11 of the 32 projects rated for the fiscal
                              year 2004 cycle were identified as being unable to calculate a valid TSUB
                              value.21 As a result, these projects were “not rated” for the cost-
                              effectiveness criterion. Additionally, 7 of the 9 project sponsors we
                              interviewed who were affected by the TSUB measure encountered
                              difficulties in the measure’s implementation:


                              20
                               We interviewed a total of 11 project sponsors, but 2 of these sponsors were exempt from
                              the evaluation and ratings process because they are seeking less than $25 million in New
                              Starts funding and, therefore, were not affected by the TSUB measure.
                              21
                               There were 52 projects evaluated in the fiscal year 2004 cycle. However, 20 of these were
                              exempt from the ratings process and not affected by the TSUB measure because they
                              requested less than $25 million in New Starts funding.




                              Page 12                                                           GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
• 5 had difficulty getting their local transit forecasting models to generate
  the data needed for FTA’s software to calculate the measure,

• 3 did not have adequate data to develop the measure, and

• 2 said that FTA did not provide enough documentation about the
  measure and the software used to calculate the TSUB.

As described above, FTA officials told us that they believe the major
problem in implementing the TSUB measure stemmed from problems with
the underlying local travel forecasting models, not FTA’s software or
guidance on the measure. Nonetheless, FTA is taking some steps to address
the problems raised in the implementation of the TSUB measure. For
example, FTA hired contractors to work with transit sponsors to correct
problems with the local travel forecasting models and the software used to
calculate the TSUB measure. These contractors provided technical support
to all affected project sponsors and assisted some sponsors in correcting
the underlying problems identified in their local travel forecasting models.
FTA officials also told us that they are continuing to work closely with the
11 project sponsors who were unable to calculate values for the TSUB
measure. When the problems in the projects’ local travel forecasting
models are corrected and data are resubmitted to FTA for evaluation, FTA
plans to re-rate these projects. As soon as a project receives a revised
rating, FTA officials told us that they would inform Congress and other
appropriate parties.

Project sponsors we interviewed told us that they would have benefited
from additional guidance and other technical support, such as
documentation for the software used to calculate the TSUB measure. They
also requested additional opportunities to discuss their concerns and
provide input to FTA officials about the measure. FTA officials told us that
they are developing software documentation for the TSUB measure and
plan to release it in June 2003. Furthermore, FTA has held a series of four
roundtable discussions with project sponsors and transit industry officials,
specifically on the TSUB measure and its implementation. FTA plans to
hold two additional roundtable discussions during fiscal year 2004.

FTA officials and a FTA consultant told us that they anticipate that fewer
projects will have difficulties calculating accurate TSUB values in future
New Starts evaluation and ratings cycles. FTA plans to continue addressing
technical problems related to inaccurate local travel forecasting models on




Page 13                                                 GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                          a case-by-case basis. FTA officials also acknowledged the need to develop a
                          more systematic approach for dealing with these problems.



FTA Evaluated 52          Of the 52 projects FTA evaluated for the fiscal year 2004 cycle, 32 were
                          rated and 20 were statutorily exempt from the ratings process because they
Projects for the Fiscal   requested less than $25 million in New Starts funding. Figure 3 shows the
Year 2004 Cycle, Rated    results of the process for the fiscal year 2004 cycle and how they compare
                          with those of fiscal year 2003, when 50 projects were evaluated. From fiscal
32, and Proposed 4 for    years 2003 to 2004, the number of “recommended” projects decreased from
New Grant Agreements      25 to 12, while the number of projects that received a rating of “not
                          recommended” rose from 4 to 11. The primary reasons for these changes
                          were (1) lower financial ratings, which resulted from the inability of some
                          projects to conform to the reduced federal share, and (2) “low” ratings
                          received on the cost-effectiveness and mobility improvements criteria
                          resulting from implementation of the new TSUB measure. In addition, the
                          number of projects that were “not rated” or “not available” rose from 2 to 7,
                          largely due to difficulties project sponsors had in determining a value for
                          the TSUB measure.




                          Page 14                                                 GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Figure 3: Distribution of New Starts Project Ratings for Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004




Following the fiscal year 2004 New Starts evaluation and ratings process,
FTA proposed four projects for new federal funding commitments.
Inclusion of one of them—the Chicago Ravenswood Line Expansion
project—is unusual because FTA assigned it an overall project rating of
“not rated” even though, on the basis of FTA’s New Starts regulations, a
project must have an overall rating of at least “recommended” to receive a
grant agreement. According to FTA officials, this project could not be rated
because its local travel forecasting data and models did not support
calculation of the new benefits measure. However, the officials told us that
they decided to select this project for a proposed grant agreement because
they believed that the data problems would be corrected, and the project
would be able to achieve a “recommended” rating. Along with the other
three proposed projects, FTA officials believe that the Chicago
Ravenswood Line Expansion project will be ready for a grant agreement by



Page 15                                                      GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                                          the end of fiscal year 2004. Officials said that other projects that received
                                          overall ratings of “recommended” or “highly recommended” would not be
                                          ready at that time. Figure 4 summarizes the ratings of the four proposed
                                          projects, which are further described in appendix I.



Figure 4: Ratings of Projects Proposed for New Starts Funding in Fiscal Year 2004




                                          Note: According to FTA officials, some ratings criteria are weighted more heavily than others when the
                                          project justification summary rating is determined.




                                          Page 16                                                                   GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Proposed Initiatives in     The administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposal requests that
                            $1.5 billion be made available for New Starts, a $0.3 billion increase over
FTA’s Fiscal Year 2004      the fiscal year 2003 level. The budget proposal also contains three
Budget Proposal Have        initiatives—reducing the federal share to 50 percent, allowing nonfixed
                            guideway projects to be funded through New Starts, and replacing the
Some Advantages, but        “exempt” classification with a streamlined ratings process for projects
May Create Challenges       requesting less than $75 million in New Starts funding.
for Future New Starts
Projects

Administration’s Proposed   The administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2004 requests that
Fiscal Year 2004 Budget     $1.5 billion be made available for the construction of new transit systems
                            and expansion of existing systems through the New Starts program—an
Requests 25 Percent
                            increase of $0.3 billion, or 25 percent over the $1.2 billion appropriated for
Increase in New Starts      fiscal year 2003. The commitment authority for fiscal year 2004 and beyond
Funding                     will be addressed in the next surface transportation authorization
                            legislation.22 Because FTA’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposes that
                            $1.5 billion in commitments be made available for the New Starts program,
                            FTA expects that the new commitment authority adopted in the
                            authorization legislation will, at a minimum, be sufficient to cover this
                            amount.23

                            Figure 5 illustrates the specific allocations FTA has requested for fiscal year
                            2004. It shows that

                            • $1.08 billion would be allocated among 21 projects with existing grant
                              agreements;

                            • $235 million would be allocated among the 4 projects proposed for new
                              FFGAs;


                            22
                             FTA’s New Starts commitment authority is the amount of funding Congress has authorized
                            FTA to commit to New Starts projects for a given authorization period.
                            23
                             FTA expects to end fiscal year 2003 with about $0.2 billion in unused commitment
                            authority. Under TEA-21 and subsequent amendments, Congress authorized approximately
                            $10.0 billion in total New Starts commitment authority from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal
                            year 2003. FTA committed about $9.8 billion for New Starts projects during those years,
                            resulting in the $0.2 billion in unused commitment authority.




                            Page 17                                                           GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
• $121.2 million would be allocated among other projects in final design
  and preliminary engineering that do not have existing, pending, or
  proposed FFGAs (these projects may include those designated by
  Congress);

• $55 million would be allocated to 1 project with a pending grant
  agreement (i.e., the FFGA was proposed in an earlier year, but has not
  yet been completed); and

• the remainder of the funds would be allocated to other mandated
  projects and oversight activities.



Figure 5: New Starts Funding Proposals for Fiscal Year 2004




Note: The percentages in the figure do not total 100 percent due to rounding.




Page 18                                                                   GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Proposed Initiatives in FTA’s   The administration has proposed that the federal share of New Starts
Fiscal Year 2004 Budget         project costs be reduced from the current statutory maximum level of 80
                                percent to a statutory maximum of 50 percent.24 The possible advantages of
Proposal Have Advantages        this proposed reduction would be similar to those cited by FTA officials as
and Disadvantages               justification for the 60 percent preference policy—that is, the change may
                                allow FTA to fund additional projects and the local governments
                                sponsoring the projects would be encouraged to provide a greater degree
                                of financial commitment. However, a reduction in the federal share may
                                adversely affect some future projects. Nine of the 11 project sponsors we
                                interviewed were opposed to a reduction of the federal share for projects
                                from the current statutory level of 80 percent to 50 percent. These sponsors
                                said that a reduced federal share may make it more difficult for
                                communities to participate in the New Starts program because they will
                                have to provide an increased local share. It may also affect local decision
                                making because it would make the federal share for transit projects higher
                                than that required for most highway projects, which generally receive a
                                federal share of 80 percent or more. We reported in 2002 that a number of
                                the nation’s leading transportation experts had suggested that federal
                                matching requirements should be equal for all transportation modes to
                                avoid creating incentives for local decision makers to pursue projects in
                                one mode that might be less effective than projects in other modes.25
                                However, as we noted earlier, over the past 10 years requests for federal
                                assistance for New Starts projects have averaged around 50 percent and
                                have been trending lower.

                                Another initiative proposed in the administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget
                                proposal would allow certain nonfixed guideway transit projects (e.g.,
                                regular or express bus service) to be eligible for New Starts funding.
                                Currently, New Starts projects are exclusively on fixed guideways and
                                occupy a separate right-of-way. According to FTA, the proposal would
                                allow project sponsors to choose the most appropriate mode to serve
                                specific corridors. Three of the 11 project sponsors we interviewed
                                supported the initiative because they believed that it gives local
                                communities greater flexibility when choosing types of transit projects.


                                24
                                  FTA first proposed reducing the statutory maximum level of the federal share to 50 percent
                                in its fiscal year 2002 budget proposal. Congress rejected the proposal.
                                25
                                 See U.S. General Accounting Office, Surface and Maritime Transportation: Developing
                                Strategies for Enhancing Mobility: A National Challenge, GAO-02-775 (Washington, D.C.:
                                Aug. 30, 2002).




                                Page 19                                                            GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Seven of the 11 project sponsors we interviewed questioned the need for
allowing nonfixed guideway projects into the New Starts process. They
were concerned that there would be less emphasis on traditional fixed
guideway New Starts projects. Transit industry officials we interviewed
shared this concern.

Finally, the administration has proposed replacing the “exempt”
classification with a streamlined ratings process for projects requesting
less than $75 million in New Starts funding. Currently, projects seeking less
than $25 million in New Starts funding are exempt from the ratings process
and are not evaluated on the same project justification criteria as projects
requesting more than $25 million. By eliminating the “exempt”
classification and replacing it with a streamlined ratings process for
projects requesting less than $75 million, FTA would ensure that all
projects receive a rating and are evaluated on the basis of the same criteria.
This is a hallmark of performance-oriented evaluation. However, 6 of 11
project sponsors we interviewed opposed eliminating the “exempt”
classification. These project sponsors believed that elimination of the
“exempt” classification would reduce the number of funding applications
from smaller cities because of the cost and time involved in providing the
full evaluation data.

Figure 6 summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of the three
proposed initiatives in the administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget
proposal, as expressed by FTA officials and project sponsors we
interviewed.




Page 20                                                  GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
              Figure 6: Advantages and Disadvantages of Proposed New Starts Initiatives




Conclusions   Although FTA has the authority to favorably rate proposed projects that
              request a lower federal share, it also has a responsibility to fully inform all
              transit agencies of changes that are made to the evaluation and ratings
              process. Because FTA has not revised its regulations to reflect its 60
              percent preference policy, transit sponsors, other members of the transit
              community, and the public may not be fully aware of FTA’s preference
              policy and have not had the opportunity to formally comment on it. By
              revising its regulations to reflect its current policy, FTA would have the
              opportunity to obtain public comments on its proposed rulemaking, thus
              increasing the transparency of the agency’s decision-making process and
              ensuring that the views of affected transit agencies and other interested
              parties are considered in that process.

              In its implementation of the Transportation System User Benefits measure,
              FTA discovered that many local travel forecasting models used by project
              sponsors in planning New Starts projects were flawed or had difficulty
              generating the required data. FTA officials considered this to be a major
              problem and they acknowledged the need for a more systematic way to



              Page 21                                                   GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                      address the problem across all transit agencies that are current or future
                      New Starts project sponsors. FTA has assisted project sponsors on a case-
                      by-case basis and plans to do so in the future. Additional guidance from
                      FTA on what specific information is required from local travel forecasting
                      models could help transit agencies generate accurate data for the measure.



Recommendations for   To ensure that the New Starts regulations reflect FTA’s actual evaluation
                      and ratings process and procedures, the Secretary of Transportation should
Executive Action      direct the Administrator, FTA, to amend the agency’s regulations governing
                      the level of federal funding share for projects to reflect its current policy.

                      To systematically address the problems with the implementation of the
                      Transportation System User Benefits measure, the Secretary of
                      Transportation should direct the Administrator, FTA, to issue additional
                      guidance to transit agencies describing FTA’s expectations regarding the
                      local travel forecasting models and the specific type of data FTA requires to
                      calculate the measure.



Agency Comments       We obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from the Department
                      of Transportation. Department officials generally agreed with the
                      information presented in the report and they provided technical
                      clarifications, which we incorporated as appropriate. They concurred with
                      the recommendation about providing guidance on the user benefits
                      measure and said that they will consider the recommendation about
                      amending the regulations related to federal funding share.



Scope and             To describe the changes in the New Starts process, we analyzed
                      information in FTA’s Annual Report on New Starts for Fiscal Year 2004. To
Methodology           identify any issues related to those changes, we interviewed

                      • FTA officials and contractors hired by FTA to implement those changes;




                      Page 22                                                  GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
• 11 of the 52 sponsors of fixed guideway transit projects being
  considered for New Starts funding in fiscal year 2004;26

• Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) officials involved in 5 of the
  projects whose sponsors we interviewed; and

• transit industry officials, including senior officials at the American
  Public Transportation Association and the Chair of the New Starts
  Working Group—an organization of New Starts project sponsors, MPOs,
  and private transit industry firms, who advocate improvements to the
  New Starts evaluation and ratings process.

To determine how many New Starts projects were evaluated, rated, and
proposed for funding in fiscal year 2004, we analyzed information in FTA’s
Annual Report and in various budget and financial documents prepared by
FTA. To identify proposed funding commitments and initiatives related to
New Starts in the administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget proposal—and
the challenges they might present for future projects—we reviewed
pertinent FTA documents, including its Annual Report and proposed
budget, and we interviewed a wide variety of officials affected by the
changes. These included the individuals listed above (FTA officials, project
sponsors, MPO officials, and transit industry representatives). We
conducted our review from March 2003 through June 2003 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.


We are sending copies of this report to congressional committees with
responsibilities for transit issues; the Secretary of Transportation; the
Administrator, Federal Transit Administration; and the Director, Office of
Management and Budget. We will also make copies available to others
upon request. In addition, this report will be available at no charge on our
Web site at http://www.gao.gov.




26
 The views expressed by the 11 transit sponsors we interviewed may not reflect the views
of all sponsors of New Starts projects, but they are a sample chosen to include a cross-
section of projects based on geographic distribution, project size, and a range of cost-
effectiveness and financial ratings.




Page 23                                                          GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
If you or your staffs have any questions on matters discussed in this report,
please contact me at siggerudk@gao.gov. An additional key GAO contact
and contributors to this report are listed in appendix III.




Katherine A. Siggerud
Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues




Page 24                                                 GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Appendix I

Additional Information on Four Projects                                                                     Append
                                                                                                                 xeis




Proposed for New Full Funding Grant
Agreements in Fiscal Year 2004                                                                               AppenIx
                                                                                                                   di




Chicago Ravenswood Line     • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is planning a series of capital
Expansion Project             improvements to enhance the operation of the Ravenswood heavy rail
                              line, which currently experiences capacity problems through a high-
                              density 9.3-mile corridor.

                            • The Ravenswood Line Expansion Project would allow CTA to expand
                              platforms and stations along the existing line to accommodate longer
                              trains.

                            • The overall capital cost of the project is estimated at $529.9 million. The
                              federal share requested is $245.5 million (46 percent).

                            • At present, this project has been identified as “not rated” due to
                              concerns about some of the information underlying the calculation of
                              the Transportation System User Benefits (TSUB) measure. However, on
                              the basis of work conducted to date, the Federal Transit Administration
                              (FTA) believes that the remaining issues will be resolved in the near
                              future and that an overall project rating of “recommended” is likely to be
                              granted.



Las Vegas Resort Corridor   • The Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is proposing
Project                       a 2.28-mile Resort Corridor Automated Guideway Transit (elevated
                              monorail) project.

                            • The monorail will serve the Las Vegas central business district and the
                              resort corridor along the Las Vegas “strip.”

                            • The estimated capital cost for the project is $324.8 million. RTC is
                              seeking $159.7 million (50 percent) in New Starts funding.

                            • The Las Vegas Resort Corridor Project received a “high” rating for cost-
                              effectiveness, as demonstrated by its high transit system user benefits.



New York East Side Access   • The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is designing a
Project                       direct access for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) passengers to a new
                              passenger concourse in Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan.




                            Page 25                                                 GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
                               Appendix I
                               Additional Information on Four Projects
                               Proposed for New Full Funding Grant
                               Agreements in Fiscal Year 2004




                               • The 4-mile, two-station commuter rail extension under the East River
                                 will contribute to the overall growth of the nation’s largest commuter
                                 rail system.

                               • The projected capital cost of the project is $5.3 billion. MTA is
                                 requesting $2.6 billion (49 percent) in New Starts funding.

                               • LIRR has 162,000 daily riders, and this project will allow them to access
                                 the east side of New York by connecting LIRR with Grand Central
                                 Station. FTA officials believe that the project will reduce travel time for
                                 many riders.



Seattle Central Link Project   • The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is
                                 proposing a 24-mile Central Link light rail transit line from central
                                 Seattle toward, but not connecting to, the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

                               • The total capital cost for the project is estimated at $2.5 billion. Sound
                                 Transit is expected to seek $500 million (20 percent) in New Starts
                                 funding.

                               • The Central Link project entered Preliminary Engineering in July 1997
                                 and Final Design in February 2000. FTA originally entered into a full
                                 funding grant agreement for the “Seattle Sound Move Corridor” project
                                 in January 2001.

                               • Congress and the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector
                                 General raised significant questions about the project costs and directed
                                 Sound Transit to reexamine the entire project to reduce risks and better
                                 meet budget limitations. Sound Transit identified the Central Link
                                 component of the larger Seattle Sound Move Corridor project as its new
                                 minimum operable segment.




                               Page 26                                                 GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Appendix II

Transit Sponsors and Metropolitan Planning
Organizations Contacted by GAO                                                                                             AppenIx
                                                                                                                                 di




Project                                                   Transit agencies contacted
Chicago (Ravenswood Line Expansion)                       Chicago Transit Authority
Cleveland (Euclid Corridor Bus Rapid Transit)             Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Las Vegas (Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway)                Regional Transportation Commission of Clark County
Little Rock (River Rail Project)                          Central Arkansas Transit Authority
Nashville (East Corridor Commuter Rail)                   Regional Transportation Authority
New York (Long Island Railroad Eastside Access)           Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Philadelphia (Schuylkill Valley Metrorail)                Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Pittsburgh (North Shore Connector Light Rail Transit)     Port Authority of Allegheny County
San Francisco (New Central Subway Project)                San Francisco Municipal Railway
Seattle (Central Link Initial Segment)                    Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority
Washington, D.C. (Dulles Corridor Bus Rapid Transit)      Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority
Geographic location                                       Metropolitan Planning Organizations contacted
Chicago, Illinois                                         Chicago Area Transportation Study
Las Vegas, Nevada                                         Regional Transportation Commission of Clark County
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania                                Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Seattle, Washington                                       Puget Sound Regional Council
Washington, D.C.                                          National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board at the
                                                          Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Source: GAO.




                                                Page 27                                              GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
Appendix III

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                                       Appen
                                                                                                Ix
                                                                                                 di




GAO Contact       Rita Grieco, (202) 512-9047 or griecor@gao.gov



Acknowledgments   In addition to the person named above, other key contributors to this
                  report were Alan Belkin, Christine Bonham, R. Stockton Butler, Brandon
                  Haller, Bert Japikse, Ryan Petitte, and David Laverny-Rafter.




(542020)          Page 28                                             GAO-03-701 Mass Transit
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